After much anticipation, The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), the city’s newest must-see cultural destination and home to everything architecture in Chicago, officially opens to the public on Friday, Aug. 31.
The CAC, previously known as the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), welcomes all to experience its new home at 111 E. Wacker Dr., just steps from Michigan Avenue.
The 20,000-square-foot Center, located above the dock for the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, provides a unique Chicago experience. Visitors discover world-famous tours, programs and exciting, new interactive exhibits that reveal the stories behind the city’s architectural marvels and breathtaking skyscrapers around the world.
“With the opening of the CAC, design moves to the center of Chicago’s cultural conversation. CAC’s new exhibitions share stories that illuminate and inspire.” said Lynn Osmond, CAC’s president and CEO. “Our new home enables us to offer a whole new experience. Visitors can explore huge scale models of skyscrapers and learn how and why they were designed and built. They can dive into the new, expanded Chicago Model and learn the story, told through film and projections on the model, of Chicago’s architectural legacy. The new Center is a true Chicago experience.”
The CAC’s grand opening weekend runs through Monday, Sept. 3, and kicks off today, with Chicago Architecture Day, proclaimed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a day to celebrate the opening and acknowledge Chicago architecture’s significant impact around the world.
Chicago Architecture Center Design
The CAC was designed by the world-renowned Chicago-based architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). AS+GG’s imaginative design creates the perfect environment for architectural discovery in an architecturally significant space designed by the Office of Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of Mid-Century Modernism.
The CAC features custom-designed spaces for tour orientation, design education, public programs, an award-winning store and innovative exhibits.
Chicago Architecture Center Exhibits
One of the CAC’s premier exhibits is located in the Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery on the second floor, in a dramatic space with 40-foot tall windows overlooking the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The exhibit, Building Tall, is filled with supersized scale models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world including a 36-foot tall model of Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower, designed by Chicago’s AS+GG, which will be the world’s tallest building when completed.
The Chicago Gallery, located on the first floor, tells the story of how Chicago became the epicenter of modern architecture. The centerpiece of the gallery is the popular Chicago Model, now bigger and better than ever—expanded from 1,300 to 4,250 buildings. A film and interactive light show illuminates the model to show Chicago’s early growth, rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire, first-ever skyscrapers, and today’s modernist masterpieces of steel and glass.The gallery also highlights the city’s most notable architects, diverse neighborhoods, unique home design and innovative current projects.
The opening of the Chicago Architecture Center represents a new beginning for CAF, which has grown to become one of the largest cultural organizations in Chicago since its founding in 1966. In 2017, CAF reached nearly 690,000 people through its 85 docent-led tours, as well as exhibitions, lectures, education programs and online tools, and the annual, two-day city-wide architecture festival Open House Chicago.